The largest stone circle in Europe is located at the Avebury monument. Built around 5 millennia ago, it’s a well-preserved example of the many ritual monuments that existed through Europe in Neolithic times. That was a long time ago, but some archeologists believe there’s evidence that the Avebury site had ceremonial significance centuries or millennia before then. That period would date to the late Mesolithic period, and could further signify the importance of the spiritual Avebury monument.
The Avebury site is located in Wiltshire county in South West England. It’s owned and managed by the National Trust, a conservation charity in the UK. UNESCO has combined the monument with several nearby sites into the single World Heritage Site named Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites.
The Avebury monument is unique because like Stonehenge and Brodgar it is both a henge and a stone circle. A henge is a circular or oval earthen bank built in the Neolithic period. At Avebury the henge surrounds three stone circles. The two smaller circles are located at the center of the henge. Completely encompassing the smaller circles is the larger stone circle which is 1,088 feet across.
The stones themselves have two shapes. Some stones are tall and thin, the others are short and stout. Researchers theorize that the forms relate to a male gender and a female gender.
Spare Time to Build the Spiritual Avebury Monument
Researchers believe that sites like Avebury indicate the existence of an agricultural society. This change from hunter-gatherers enabled people to spend time performing non-essential tasks, such as building places of ritual. Apparently there wasn’t a lot of spare time available because archeologists believe that the monument was built over several hundred years.
On the topic of spare time, people at the National Trust charity had some available recently. On April Fool’s Day in 2014 the National Trust pranked on social media that park rangers were re-aligning the stones to accommodate British Summer Time. It was just a joke of course. But I wonder if our Neolithic ancestors would have laughed. Did they even have social media back then?
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